Some Washington state residents told they have to repay jobless benefits
SEATTLE — Last week, Sonja Knudson got some unpleasant news: The $8,350 in federal jobless benefits she’d received last spring from the state Employment Security Department (ESD) was actually an overpayment, and she’d have to pay it back.If not, the agency warned it would garnish her paycheck or tax refund, said Knudson, 51, a longtime substitute teacher with both Seattle Public Schools and Methow Valley School District. “I really appreciated getting the benefit last spring,” she added. “But this has been really frustrating.”Knudson isn’t alone. Over the last several weeks, thousands of Washin...
The Seattle Times
Still slammed by unemployment, states try to avoid tax hikes
As a historic wave of layoffs continues, states are grappling with evaporating funds for unemployment benefits that could force cuts to those payments or hikes in business taxes.Thirty-one states already are dipping into federal CARES Act dollars or seeking federal loans to keep money in the unemployment coffers. Those and other states also are considering legislation or other actions to fend off business tax increases triggered by high jobless payouts.Unemployment insurance trust funds are paid for by business taxes and pay out benefits to laid-off workers. If the funds start to run out of mo...
College grads struggle to launch careers in a pandemic economy. 'I chose the worst year to get my life together'
CHICAGO — Kevin Zheng had big plans lined up as he prepared to graduate in the spring with a degree in criminal justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago.The 23-year-old thought he’d enter the job market well-prepared, with an internship at the Chicago Police Department on his resume.But the COVID-19 health crisis upended that plan. His internship was canceled, his graduation was delayed until August, and he sat in his bedroom for the virtual commencement ceremony. Now he’s looking for a job in a pandemic-induced recession.“I chose the worst year to get my life together,” said Zheng, ...
With Florida's hotel workers still jobless, unions pivot to canvass for Democrats
MIAMI — Before the coronavirus pandemic, Ketty Toussaint Rene kept her hands busy every day working the same way she had for three years scrubbing dishes at the largest hotel in Miami-Dade County for a little more than $13 an hour. Now, she says her knuckles are so sore from knocking on doors that she has resorted to carrying around a 2-inch white piece of stone she found at home to do the knocking for her.Toussaint Rene is one of thousands of the state’s hospitality workers who were laid off in March when the pandemic decimated South Florida’s hotel industry, leaving a majority of minimum wag...
Texas looks to recoup millions it says it overpaid to jobless
If losing a job amid the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t stressful enough, tens of thousands of out-of-work Texans also have been notified that they received too much money in unemployment benefits and now are in debt to the state.The Texas Workforce Commission says it has overpaid a total of $203 million to about 185,000 people from March 1 through Sept. 15 while attempting to quickly get state and federal benefits to those in need.The figures are relatively small fractions of both the total amount that has been disbursed and the total number of people who have received benefits.According to data...
Pa. slashing workers' unemployment checks after paying them double by mistake
PHILADELPHIA — Majid Ali spent months shouldering mounting bills before finally receiving unemployment benefits.The $195 a week was a relief to the behavioral health specialist, who was furloughed when Philadelphia schools shut down. Ali, 57, quickly spent the money to catch up on car payments, cable bills, and other expenses once he got paid in June.Then Ali got more bad news.In July, state officials at the Department of Labor and Industry said that due to their own error, Ali was issued “duplicate payments” of benefits, and they needed to recover the extra money. For the next eight weeks, Al...
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Pandemic scrambles Seattle job market: Despite deep unemployment, some employers still can't hire fast enough
SEATTLE — If you want a sense of what six months of COVID-19 have done to the Seattle-area job market, ask Amy Fenning.Last year, the former college administrator decided she wanted to be an elementary school teacher and is currently finishing her training in the Renton School District.But thanks to the pandemic, Fenning has no idea when or where any teaching jobs will be available. So she’s hedging her bets and keeping the cashier job she took this summer at Target, where work is so plentiful she often has to turn down shifts. “They are always busy and always hiring,” says Fenning. “These are...
The Seattle Times
SD governor calls reports of 250,000 coronavirus cases linked to Sturgis rally 'made up'
The Republican governor of South Dakota is disputing the number of coronavirus cases that stemmed from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August and called a report that at least 250,000 cases were tied to the event “made up.”So far one death has been traced to the rally, but if a new study is any indication, that number should skyrocket.In a new study from Germany’s Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is described as a super-spreader event after 400,000 bikers rumbled into the small South Dakota town and crowded into bars and restaurants for 10 days.The study “extrap...
New York Daily News
Sturgis Motorcyle Rally linked to more than 265,000 cases of COVID-19 costing $12 billion: report
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally might be rolling into the record books as the largest known coronavirus super-spreader event in the U.S. to date.A new study that analyzed cellphone pings for rally attendees and the COVID-19 case numbers in the communities they returned to estimates that more than 265,000 infections confirmed between Aug. 2 and Sept. 2 trace back to the massive gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts in South Dakota.“We found that for counties that had a lot of people going to Sturgis, after the rally, their case numbers starting taking off relative to similar places that did not have...
New York Daily News
Will Bunch: America's real hoax: Record highs on Wall Street as millions of jobless people can't pay rent
The shocking disconnect between a thriving U.S. investor economy and its millions of unemployed as a recipe for even worse social unrest.Don’t blame Lisa Scott, a 43-year-old certified nursing assistant who lives in the Oxford Circle section of Philadelphia, for not celebrating this week as the Standard & Poor’s 500 index soared to yet another record high, as Wall Street’s unbelievable — in every sense of the word — summer stretches into a new month.On Wednesday afternoon, as the Dow was rising yet another 454 points, Scott — who hasn’t worked since the coronavirus turned her world upside down...
The Philadelphia Inquirer